Make a Difference

Day: April 13, 2009

Safran Crucifixion Offends Villagers

I have enjoyed some of Safrans’ work. He can be genuinely funny. But when people are kind and harm no one, mocking their values and beliefs is not funny. It’s just try-hard.

I can sort of understand the practice in some parts of the Philippines of being crucified on Good Friday. It’s a symbolic identification with Christ in his sufferings, an expression of a desire to share the burden he carried.

I think it’s the wrong thing to do. But I still respect the sincerity and faith of the people who do it.

John Safran dressing up in ‘Life of Brian’ type wig and pleading to share in this ritual just so he can belittle the people involved is not something which is fair or amusing.

Devout Christian followers of Good Friday’s crucifixion rituals in the rural Philippines village of Kapitangan were devastated to learn that John Safran’s nailing to the cross alongside local penitents was a TV comedy show stunt. In this isolated part of Bulacan province north of Manila the arrival of a faithful foreigner in a jeepney who pleaded to take part in the gory Easter ceremony and didn’t chicken out was at first applauded. Villagers were bewildered to learn on Saturday that Safran was not even a Christian. Student Jhoan Caparas, 18, who saw Safran’s crucifixion, said his actions had been disrespectful and immoral. “Why does he want to come here and laugh at us? We don’t laugh at his culture and his beliefs. So he should respect ours.”

Yes he should.

I Am No Fan Of Gordon Brown

The Prime Minister of England. But he seems a decent enough bloke. I find it difficult to believe he would ever have countenanced the kind of deliberate and malicious smearing of poltical opponents that one of his advisors seems to have suggested to another Labour figure.

Damian McBride, who has now resigned as one of Brown’s senior advisors, sent emails containing gossip and fabricated stories to Derek Draper. Draper is a Labour party publicist and blogger, who had proposed setting up a website called ‘Red Rag’ dedicated to gossip about Conservative MPs. Draper originally described McBride’s ideas as ‘brilliant.’

But the idea came to nothing. It was, as Draper points out, a few juvenile ideas tossed about by a couple of mates. They decided, after a few laughs, that it would be wrong to proceed in that way, and they didn’t.

The harm seems to have been done by British blogger Guido Fawkes, who somehow got hold of those emails and made them public, causing embarrassment not only to McBride, Draper, and now to Gordon Brown, but to the people mentioned in the stories. Without Guido, those bits of gossip and baseless stories would never have become public knowledge.

Guido’s allegations about Brown’s likely knowledge and approval of the plan seem to me to be just as baseless and malicious as any of the ideas McBride and Draper emailed to each other.

The difference is that McBride and Draper told no one else about their silly stories. Guido did. And now he’s making up some of his own, with the intention of doing exactly what McBride and Draper talked about doing. But didn’t.

Guido’s a right-winger and so am I. And as I said, I am no supporter of Brown or Labour. But fair is fair.

Angel Cabrera Earns More Than Parking Meter

And is the first South American ever to win the US Masters golf tournament.

Angel Cabrera’s US Master’s prize money is a $1.35 million share of the $7.5 million dollar purse

That’s enough to park in Sydney for nearly 30 years.

Or to buy Kylie Minogue 270 facials. I hope the media isn’t too hard on Kylie for her recent beauty and relaxation expenditure. She deserves a little pampering. She works hard, and she’s had a hard battle with cancer, and she’s one of show business’s genuinely nice people.

Share Market Gains Expected

After gains in US markets yesterday, and the Wells, Fargo and Co bank announcing a higher than expected profit.

But Comsec chief economist Craig James says there is still a bumpy road ahead. “Investors shouldn’t be surprised if companies report declines of up to 50 per cent in earnings per share compared with a year earlier,” he said.

Between counter-productive government stimulus plans, high unemployment and reduced profits, I don’t think we can expect any gains for a while yet. Anyone needing to get their superannuation out now is not going to be happy.

But if you have spare cash and a long term plan, it is a better time to be buying shares than selling them. And the same goes for real estate.

Spam Record

Last night over 200 spam comments were sent to my post Another Rau Row. That’s a record for this blog.

They were mostly advertising online gambling, but some offered cheap online prescription drugs.

They all came from this IP address:

Any suggestions?

Paying Ransoms Encourages Piracy

Says US advisor Juan Carlos Zarate: “The U.S. has a very clear sense that, if you start to pay ransoms, you in essence create an industry for kidnapping,” he said. “And, frankly, it’s why you see an uptick in the piracy problem in East Africa. It’s a for-profit venture. It’s very lucrative at low cost for the pirates and it’s, in part, fueled by the fact that shipping companies in other countries have been paying ransoms for the release of ships, cargo and personnel.”

That just seems obvious to me. Paying millions in ransoms to pirates and terrorists enables them to purchase sophisticated equipment, buy friendships and favour, and encourages them to keep attacking civilian targets. It is short-sighted and stupid.

The French took an important intiative on this when they rescued Florent Lemacon’s family from the yacht Tanit. Lemacon himself was shot dead. French authorities will conduct an enquiry into whether he was murdered by the pirates or accidentally killed in cross-fire.

I found three things of particular interest about the hijacking and rescue of the Tanit.

First, the family had specifically and repeatedly warned about the dangers of Somali piracy, and that they should not go near the Gulf of Aden. I’m glad the French took the action they did. But Lemacon’s irresponsibility put not only himself and his family in danger, but also French personnel who rescued them.

Second, the French rescue was prompted by the fear that the pirates were considering either murdering the family, or taking them to shore, perhaps with a view to selling them to an islamist terrorist organisation. This would have made any rescue attempt much more dangerous and difficult.

And third, Lemacon’s father’s description of his son as a dreamer who had rejected western materialism. Defending the couple’s decision to take their son on a risky voyage, he said: “They chose a lifestyle. In their own way they were fighting with deeply held convictions for the right to live differently.”

Choosing a lifestyle is one thing. But since when did the ‘right’ to live differently include the right to put others in danger? We hear far too much about ‘rights’ and far too little about responsibility. And if you can afford a luxury yacht, with all the electronics and conveniences that Western technology can offer, and to sail your family around the world, in what possible sense have you rejected Western materialism?

But the big news of the day is the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips. Phillips had given himself up to the pirates in return for the rest of his crew being allowed to go free, after the crew had fought to regain control of their ship. US Naval forces killed three of the four pirates who were holding him. Another is being held for trial. Phillips is unharmed.

Thank goodness some decisive action has been taken at last. 

But the pirates will be angry. Some have already threatened to take revenge on any Americans they capture. And more than 250 hostages are still being held, including 92 Philippinos, and 16 Italians from a tugboat captured last Sunday.

© 2023 Qohel